Skydiving great grandmother
At age 78, Phyllis Guthrie earned a doctorate degree in education.
At age 82, she vacationed in the Alps and climbed a mountain. And at 87, she acted in The Vagina Monologues.
So at 92, perhaps it was time for the great-grandmother to slow down.
On Saturday, two days before her 92nd birthday, Guthrie dressed in navy blue slacks and her most sensible orthopedic shoes, sipped coffee with her daughter, then drove to an open field about 50 miles south of Fort Worth.
It was time to sky-dive.
“I feel kind of numb,” Guthrie said, smiling, minutes before the jump with Skydive 35 in Hillsboro. “I don’t feel nervous at all. I’m not afraid. I just feel sort of level.”
Friends from Waterview Senior Living Center in Granbury, where Guthrie lives, stood nearby, snapping photographs and chatting.
‘If George Bush can do it, then so can I.’
Laura Bush, lifestyle coordinator at Waterview Senior Living Center in Granbury, on what Guthrie told her when she said skydiving was on her bucket list
Laura Bush, the center’s lifestyle director, said she asks all new residents if they have a bucket list. Guthrie was the first person to answer that she planned to sky-dive.
“ ‘If George Bush can do it,’ ” Guthrie had told her, “ ‘then so can I.’ ”
Guthrie said she decided to sky-dive because she wants her family, friends and past students to have a way to remember her. A retired Tarleton State University professor, she has four children, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
“I want to leave a legacy,” she said. “Someday, people can say, ‘Do you remember that lady who jumped out of an airplane?’ ”
So Saturday morning, Guthrie waved goodbye and climbed aboard the back of a truck that drove a few hundred feet over tall grass and uneven dirt to a slender runway. She departed in a small plane, leaving behind the wheat fields and onlookers.
“I’m a little nervous,” said her daughter, Cindy Brown. “I’ve got a lot of prayer going on.”
Twenty minutes later, five parachutes appeared, small spots in the sky.
As Guthrie landed, her daughter met her on the runway, and instructors helped her remove the black vest. “That sure was something,” she said.
Fellow jumper Ian Houchin offered an arm. “You are my hero,” he said. “Do you think you’d do this again?”
You don’t have time to think. It feels like you’re falling forever.
Phyllis Guthrie of Granbury on skydiving two days before her 92nd birthday
“Well, yes,” she replied. “But not now.”
Resting on a picnic bench, Guthrie smoothed her hair with her hands. “I can’t believe I did it. I’ll tell you the strangest part. Getting pushed out of the plane. You don’t have time to think. It feels like you’re falling forever.”
Guthrie would rest for a few minutes, but she did not have long.
Bingo started at 2 p.m. sharp, she explained, and she hoped to finally reverse a recent losing streak.